Working as a nurse is a physically demanding job. You are on your feet for long stretches of time, and you must move patients. With these physical demands, comes the potential for injury. According to Monster.com, nurses have the highest rate of back-related workers’ compensation claims among all industries in the U.S.
However, there are ways nurses can help protect themselves and avoid injury. Here a few ideas.
Use lifting equipment
A patient may not seem that heavy, but a wrong twist or a slip could cause an injury. It may be slightly more time-consuming to use lifting equipment, but in the payoff is no injury, it is worth it. Experts also recommend if you are lifting anything else that is really heavy, like soiled linen bags, you should also use lifting equipment.
If you do lift, use proper body mechanics
Most of us have heard to advice to lift with your legs and not your back. When you are moving patients, this is particularly important. Also, keep anyone you are moving as close to your midsection as possible. This is your center of gravity and will help you maintain your balance. If you are transferring a patient, use a transfer board, and ask someone to help you.
Wear comfortable shoes
Nurses stand for long periods of time, often on hard surfaces. Wear shoes that are comfortable and are good shock absorbers. This protects your back from added stress.
Be careful with needles
OSHA states about 1,000 needle sticks occur each day in U.S. hospitals. One way to avoid a needle stick is to avoid recapping needles. You should also use devices with safety features whenever possible. Before you start a procedure with a needle, think through how you will safely use and dispose of the needle.
Get enough sleep
Nurses often work long shifts, so getting enough sleep is crucial to staying alert. Multiple studies have also shown that fatigue increases the likelihood of making mistakes. When you are tired, you are more likely to injure a patient’s safety, as well as your own.
As a nurse, your job is to care for your patients. It is also important to remember to take care of yourself as well. Use lifting equipment, practice proper body mechanics, wear comfy shoes, use proper safety measures with needles and make sure you get enough sleep.
Doing all these things can help you avoid a workplace injury. However, if you do get injured on the job, you can apply for workers’ compensation benefits.